Saturday, October 1, 2011

Keep it Simple

Hooray! I have a design in knit.wear, a new publication just out from Interweave Press. Let me introduce you to the Cutaway Coat…..

It had been a while since I submitted to Interweave, so I was delighted to hear they wanted to publish this design. The concept for this magazine is “Simple knits for thoughtful knitters”. I think this coat fits right in.

The clothes I’m drawn to when I look at magazines and catalogs are simple, classic silhouettes with clean lines and luxurious fabrics. Clothes like this are versatile, flattering and a pleasure to wear. This is what I had in mind as I sketched this design.

Here is the original sketch.

The coat has a gentle A-line shape, roomy set-in sleeves, turn back cuffs and a stand-up collar that sits away from the neck. Four buttons create a focal point. You can see more photos on Interweave’s preview page here.

For me, this piece was all about the fabric. The yarn is from Beth Casey’s wonderful team at Lorna’s Laces. The body of the coat is made with a strand of Glory, a brushed mohair, and a strand of Grace, a boucle mohair, held together. The collar, cuffs and edging are two strands of the boucle held together. I knew the mohair would deliver warmth without weight. What surprised me was the play of light across the surface. The loops of Grace reflect the light in a shimmery way, and the halo of Glory diffuses the reflection. It is an extraordinarily beautiful fabric. Sadly, these photographs don’t really convey the richness and depth of the swatches.

My original swatch used Grace in Robot Overlord and Glory in Poppy, which added the element of color excitement. Working the two yarns in the same colorway, as Interweave chose to do, produces a more subtle yet equally beautiful result. The color they chose is Dusk, a steely blue.

Pro tip 1: It can be a challenge to measure your gauge when using highly textured yarns, because the texture obscures the stitches. See the white stitching on the blue swatch? I use a contrasting colored yarn to outline a 4” square. Then I can hold the swatch up to the light, and even stretch it if necessary to count the stitches within the square.

Another reason I loved this project: it was a crazy fast knit. At 11 stitches to 4”, this flies off the needles. I rarely use needles labeled in double digits, but the two strands of mohair liked being worked on a size 11 (8mm) needle. If you want a project that you can finish in time to wear this fall, here you go.

Pro tip 2: Many knitters shy away from boucle mohair. The loops in the yarn can catch on the points of your needles, which is annoying to say the least. I had no problems with snagging at all, because I used a large needle with a blunt point. This is not the project for your Addi Lace needles or Signature Stilettos. I used Suzanne’s Ebony circulars. See the size of the point in relation to the size of the loops in the mohair? No snagging here. I’ve owned and loved these ebony needles for years. You can get them at Webs.

Knit.wear is scheduled to be on newsstands October 4, but I understand some yarn shops have it already. It features 25 designs, from many of your favorite designers. Enjoy!

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